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Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series (anime review)

Umi-Monogatarireview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series

Director: Junichi Sato

Studio: Zexcs

Author: Toshihiko Tsukiji

U.S. Distributor: Nozomi, Lucky Penny

U.S. Release Date: November 3, 2015

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Supernatural

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Aria The Animation

Synopsis:

Marin and Urin are sea folk, people who live in a peaceful underwater world surrounded by bright fish and colorful coral. But one day, a beautiful ring falls from the “sky” – that dangerous place above the water – and the two girls decide to return the lovely trinket to its owner.

While the surface world holds amazing wonders for the pair, it also hides a great darkness… a darkness that Urin accidentally unleashes when she opens a stone box at a local shrine. Now it’s up to Marin, Urin, and their new friend Kanon to set things right again before that darkness swallows the entire world! Will they set everything right again in time? Will this new friendship survive? You will have to watch Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series and find out.

Commentary:

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was a refreshing and laid back series to watch as it is part magical adventure and part romance yet neither part overshadows the other. Unlike many similar series, Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series managed to stay on task for each and every episode and not devolve into a series of filler (Marin and Urin go to school) and fan-service (Mermaids at the Hot Springs) episodes half way through the series. Yes, there was fan-service but it was not over-done. I did feel like the storyline went very slow, there was not much action most of the time and many people may find Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series to be boring do to the pacing. However, the drama picks up in the last few episodes and the ending wrapped up all of the important story elements.

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series has some interesting characters to say the least. Marin and Urin are both sweet and likable girls who are also “pure” at heart. These sisters are naïve to the surface world’s ways, though perhaps not as much as they should have been. Sadly, even with the decent amount of background on their relationship and their past, it does not feel as if you really know them that well. Kanon felt like the most emotionally invested character in the series. She is a bit darker than Marin, but most people would be as Marin is full of love and energy all the time. Kanon is just a girl who wants to be liked but does not know how to show it to people. She is often referred to as “evil” or having an “evil aura” but she does not act evil. That may have been a mistranslation or something. The background characters were well done as they were fairly deep and interesting characters but their screen time was kept to a minimum to focus on the main storyline. The villain, Sedna, was very intriguing because she seems like that dark inner voice that everyone hears from time to time. She is a terrifying presence despite not having a physical form.

The animation in Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was very beautiful. The sky and sea worlds were just beautiful and the magical effects and action were well animated. The character designs were amazingly cute and the voice actors did a great job in the series. The opening and closing songs fit right in the relaxed mood of the series.

Extras:

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series includes Marin’s “What Is This?” episodes 1-4, clean opening and closing animations, web promos, promotional video, commercials, and Nozomi/Lucky Penny trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was a relaxing series to watch. I enjoyed it but I feel like they missed the mark by only having it subtitled because I think children would love this series and they would probably like to watch it dubbed. I would recommend this series if you enjoyed Aria The Animation.

Cuticle Detective Inaba The Complete Collection (anime review)

Cuticle Detective InabaTitle: Cuticle Detective Inaba The Complete Collection

Director: Susumu Nitsukawa

Studio: ZEXCS

Author: Mochi

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

Release Date: April 29th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episode / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Parody, Absurdity

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

In a world where half-human, half-animal chimeras live and work alongside normal people, there are sure to be a few bad apples in the bunch. Unfortunately, criminals who are only half-human means there are often non-human clues that leave the police stumped. That’s where lone-wolf detective Hiroshi Inaba comes in. He’s literally part wolf and has the amazing ability to extract critical information just by examining or tasting a sample of someone’s hair!

Of course, that ability has also resulted in Inaba having a little bit of a hair fetish, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for his two assistants. Well, at least the cross-dressing one isn’t complaining much. And it’s nothing compared to the strange tastes of Inaba’s nemesis, the omnivorous, half-goat crime boss Don Valentino, who has an appetite for green legal tender instead of tender young greens!

Inaba’s sworn to cut Valentino out of the criminal flock before the Don can wolf down more ill-gotten dough, but he’s going to have to chew his way through a lot of evidence to get his goat. Can sheer dogged detective work put the baaaaad guys behind bars?

 

Commentary:

In a long line of parody series, Cuticle Detective Inaba comes out of the shoot blasting away with absurdity and parody. The silliness that ensues sticks with the series throughout. The rather odd group of characters that take us through this rather crazy show are at the core of the absurd humor and constantly prove to be over the top at every turn. This over the top approach is both the strength and weakness of the series. With the show being all about the humor I would say that it hits a home run because it is funny. But, on the other side of the coin this pushing the envelop of silliness also makes it very hard to stay with the series for any period of time. I enjoyed it and grew very tired of it at the same time. I know that this seems impossible, but after just a few minutes of the switch back and forth from real world and chibi world along with the change from the plot driven story to just flat out stupidity also tired met out.

As for the quality of the animation, I can say that ZEXCS does their standard fin job of bringing us a visually entertaining show. The look and feel of the animation styles fits perfectly with the series, but as with the writing and series itself the animation betrays the viewer by making it just a little too schizophrenic even with the humor being the star of the show.

Overall Grade: B-

There are plenty of other parodies out there that stand high in their way to both hit the high marks without being overly schizophrenic. If you look back at series like Stg. Frog or Lucky Star you get a good feeling of how this balance is created. Cuticle Detective Inaba brings home the humor so many fans love. So, if you are looking for a good laugh without any real emotional connection this series is for you.